Ashton glad of final Saracens' Euro flourish

Sun, 14 May 2017 04:59

EUROPEAN CUP FINAL REACTION: Chris Ashton said it was "nice to do something on a high" after his record-breaking try helped Saracens clinch back-to-back European Champions Cup titles.

Saracens recorded a 28-17 win over Clermont in Saturday's Final at Murrayfield.

Ashton has just a few more weeks with the London club before he leaves to join Clermont's French rivals Toulon after the end of the season.

The former England wing marked his final European appearance for Saracens in style, opening the scoring when he raced onto fullback Alex Goode's grubber kick in behind Clermont's defence.

That effort saw Ashton set a new record of 37 tries in European club rugby union's premier tournament, breaking the mark he had shared with former France wing Vincent Clerc.  

"I won't lie, I'm pretty happy about it," Ashton told reporters.

"But I think a lot of it isn't down to me individually, it's down to the group of players I've been playing with over the past five years and Alex has been a big part of that.

"It's nice for my name to be up there but a lot of it belongs to this club, to be honest."

Saracens, the reigning English champions are now just two matches away from a 'double Double'.

Asked by AFP how he could walk away from Saracens, Ashton - whose time with the north London side also saw his England career end through injury and suspension, smilingly replied: "I had a feeling that was going to come up.

"Yeah, I'm going to miss it. Like I said with the try stuff, I've had five amazing years here, some of it has been life-changing.

"I've had unbelievable highs and definitely some lows along there, and the support I've had from the coaching staff and the group of players has been nothing short of phenomenal, they've always been by my side.

"It will be a sad day [when he leaves Saracens], it was nice to do something on a high today.

"Obviously we've still got next week [a Premiership semifinal against Exeter], but I'll celebrate today with the lads and I'll enjoy it."

The 30-year-old former Rugby League star, whose England union career yielded 19 tries in 39 Tests, added: "Life changes sometimes, and opportunities arise.

"I think my time now is to move on."

After Ashton broke the deadlock, Saracens added a second try through England lock George.

Clermont hit back thanks to converted tries from centre Remi Lamerat and wing Nick Abendanon.

But Goode's late try - plus 13 points from the boot of England goal-kicker Owen Farrell ensured Saracens remained out in front even when Clermont closed to within a point.

England No.8 Billy Vunipola, the man-of-the-match, added: "It's such an amazing group of guys. I'm just thankful that somehow we got another win.

"We're going to have a good party tonight."

The defeat was Clermont's third loss in the Final in five years and left them still searching for a first major European title.

"This team has got a lot of belief," said English wing Abendanon, whose try capped a brilliant length of the field move.

"It's not a nice feeling, but I'm assured we'll be there or thereabouts next year and we've got to hope next year is going to be our year."

Agence France-Presse

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EUROPEAN CUP
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Pool 1
Team P W D L Pts
Munster 6 5 0 1 24
Glasgow Warriors 6 4 0 2 19
Leicester Tigers 6 2 0 4 8
Racing Metro 6 1 0 5 5
Pool 2
Team P W D L Pts
Wasps 6 4 1 1 22
Toulouse 6 3 2 1 18
Connacht 6 4 0 2 18
Zebre 6 0 0 6 0
Pool 3
Team P W D L Pts
Saracens 6 5 1 0 24
Toulon 6 3 0 3 16
Scarlets 6 2 1 3 11
Sale Sharks 6 1 0 5 4
Pool 4
Team P W D L Pts
Leinster 6 4 1 1 23
Montpellier 6 3 0 3 16
Castres 6 2 1 3 12
Northampton Saints 6 2 0 4 9
Pool 5
Team P W D L Pts
Clermont Auvergne 6 5 0 1 26
Bordeaux 6 3 0 3 14
Exeter Chiefs 6 2 0 4 12
Ulster 6 2 0 4 10
Pool Challenge Cup
Team P W D L Pts
Gloucester 0 0 0 0 0
Stade Francais 0 0 0 0 0